Snapshot Saturday: the happy bookworm

I’ve been smiling a lot this week, and it’s all thanks to Lucy Mangan, and her new book ‘Bookworm: a memoir of childhood reading’.

Bookworm. And underneath it, another excellent read. Any guesses?

I’d thought that as a child, I was bookworm too.  Compared with Lucy Mangan I wasn’t even trying.  She resented the time wasted in eating a meal, and as for playing with friends – she never even considered doing that.

Yes, I can remember that Christmas when I was 10, when I was given 19, yes NINETEEN paperbacks, and had finished the first one before we’d even cut into the Christmas cake.

I can remember the row when my father, getting up for a night-time toddle to the bathroom, found me happily reading my way through another installment of ‘Jennings and Darbishire‘ or ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe‘.  Did it never occur to my parents to wonder how I could have got through a book a day any other way?

Lucy’s mother must be a few years older than me.  Lucy herself is only a couple of years older than Tom, and was brought up only a a mile or two away from where he lives now.

Because she was such a redoubtable reader, Lucy Mangan not only read the books that I enjoyed reading with Tom, Ellie and Emily, and now with grandchildren too: but she also discovered the treasures familiar to me as a child of the 1950’s.  I know she wrote this book just for me.

I was born before the Golden Age of the picture book.  Luckily my children weren’t.  ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’? Judith Kerr’s ‘Mog’ booksShirley HughesQuentin Blake?  How had I managed without them?



I’ve wallowed this week in memories of ‘My Naughty Little Sister‘; ‘The Church Mice‘; John Burningham; Raymond Briggs; Roald Dahl; ‘The Secret Garden‘ and all those 19th century classics by – largely female – American authors.



You couldn’t keep the smile off my face if you tried.

This post is in response to this week’s WordPress photo challenge, ‘Smile’.  It’s a total cop out on my part.  I don’t think my photo of a book jacket is exactly rising to the occasion, do you?

Click on any image to view full size.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

32 thoughts on “Snapshot Saturday: the happy bookworm”

  1. Oh yes! I love this post! This book is on my list too, and I know I will love it. And you’ve certainly brought a smile to my face (which is no mean feat this morning): I’m now wallowing in nostalgia – thank you! As for that tease of a book in the photo…. I can’t recognise it. And it’s going to bug me until somebody does!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I’m not going to give the game away at this early stage. But I’ll give you a clue. It was long listed for the Man Booker prize in 2017. Sorry you’re feeling a bit low – I hope a dose of nostalgia is enough to fix it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So you no longer need me to tell you it’s Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire. I thought it was excellent. Well done for playing. Only two people did.


  3. As another childhood bookworm I must add Lucy Mangan’s book to my reading list. Thanks for the prompt and for this nostalgic post. I’d forgotten Jennings and Darbyshire – I think they were already out of fashion by the time I read them in the 60s but I inherited well read copies from my big siblings. I’d forgotten Borka too – a jumble sale copy that my children treasured for a while. My children arrived at a wonderful time for picture books and I have all the favourites stashed away for the occasional small visitor. As for your mystery book, I guess the author is Kamila Shamsie but I don’t recognise the cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not going to comment either way on your guess till others have had a go! I’m guessing your ‘children’ are the same generation as mine, and yes, picture books flared into exuberant life in the early 80s and haven’t stopped since. Hooray for grandchildren to keep me abreast of later developments.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I forgot to say. Thanks for playing along. As you got the author immediately, I guess you should have the honour and glory of coming first!


  4. Oh, what fun! Just reading your review made me nostalgic. Our house had a long hall, with a small walk-in, cedar-lined closet at one end. In that closet were a kitchen stool and a bookcase, along with out-of-season clothing. And a ceiling light. I would sit in the closet and read and read. My mother could see a light on in the closet and, thinking it had been left on accidentally, would come down and turn it off (the switch was on the outside). I’d wait until her footsteps died, sneak out, turn the light on, and go back to my happy reading place!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great great post – made me happy too….. I’m a passionate reader, even more so than being a passionate ‘everything’ – I am the person to say that I’d read a telephone directory if nothing else was available!!!
    In England, during my stay, I learnt to love and read, admire and follow (bought any book with drawings by) Quentin Blake (this includes buying his Xmas cards!!!!) as well as Roald Dahl and then of course Winnie the Poo, but I have to confess that even though I’ve bought the Very hungry caterpillar, this one book never appealed to me – maybe I truly was too old for that one! Oh, I also discovered and bought up all books by Anne Fine – what a dark humour she has and how I would have been scared had I read some of her books had I been an english spoken child!
    All Quentin B books I have kept although I probably will never be able to read them to any grandchildren, nor do I have family members interested in English children books. Aren’t we just RICH beyond measures to be able to enjoy reading, looking at pictures and ‘see’ stories unfold….
    Wishing you a happy Sunday, seeing that it’s already Saturday night!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’d quite forgotten Ann Fine. She was good. But like you, I still love Quentin Blake the best. My world would have been so much poorer without him, and without Mr. Magnolia …. and his one boot.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘Cop out’, not at all, it’s so uplifting to be reminded by Lucy Mangan and you of these treats. Just thinking of ‘Mr Gumpy’s Outing’ certainly makes me smile and as for his house by the river – my dream home.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Add me to the list of child bookworms. My mother taught me to read at an early age (probably to keep me quiet) and I remember at primary school being allowed free reign in the school library instead of sitting through the reading lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My first school never had anything as upmarket as a library. It was a village school, through from 5 – 15 year olds and not many pupils would have seen much value in this reading malarkey. So of course I won the annual reading prize.


      1. I think we were lucky, it was a village school but newly built, we were the first intake of pupils. I think the library was one of the better educational improvements of the 1960’s.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah books, best friends for life. When I was meant to be doing Saturday chores I would sit reading at the front window (lookout for returning shopper) but have the vacuum cleaner at the ready.
    Loved seeing the cover of ‘My naughtiest sister’- chose it as a prize in year 3, it’s still at Mum’s being read by great grandchildren.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funnily enough, I never got to know My Naughty Little Sister as a child. It was my elder daughter who discovered her. It takes one to know one!


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